tv This Week in Northern California PBS September 16, 2011 7:30pm-8:00pm PDT
candidates will make a swing through the state where the parties convention in los angeles this weekend. >> investigation into solyndra deepens speculation of why the failed solar panel company continued to get funding before closing last month. a conversation with secretary of transportation ray la hood about jobs and high speed rail in california. plus, actress brings her own story in life without make up. coming up next.
good evening. i'm belva davis. welcome to this weekend california. joining me first are david baker san francisco chronicle energy reporter. and josh richmond, oakland tribune. josh, give us a snapshot of just where the political climate is like in this state. we've got a lot of polls this week. >> a lot of poll this is week. what the polls are basically showing is president obama is now less popular in california than he has been sense taking office. he has a 46% approval rating now down from 54% a few months ago. for the first time since he's been in office a majority of california voters are
disapproving of the way he's handling the company. they still have a generally positive review of him in personal regard. they like him, 55%. democrats tend to like him by a 5-1 margin and republicans tend to hate him by a 4-1 margin. the interesting thing is it appears that as much as people dislike the president they seem to dislike everybody else much more. another poll came out showing that he has double digit leads over the two presumptive republican front runners. a 13 point lead over romney. a 19 point lead over rick perry, and the other republicans really aren't necessarily even on the map according to these polls. slightly more than 1 in 5 republicans in the state are self-identifying as chief party people. and republicans who are identifying as tea party people are very happy with the array of
candidates they've got to choose from in the gop primary so far. rest of the republicans, not so happy with their choices and i think that's really driving a lot of these numbers. people hate congress like never before, literally. in the 20 years the field poll has been keeping track of this, they have never seen an approval rate of only 9% for congress. this is not necessarily good news for republicans when you break that down into approval of democrats versus republicans in congress, 30% of california ns approve. there is a lot of work to be done on both sides here. >> is it having an effect on any particular candidates that are in our area? >> absolutely. they have numbers for barbara box who just won last year. both the senators are at record
lows approval ratings. fine stein is down to 40% at this point which would seem very, very bad except for the fact that she is generally seen as one of the democratic party's most popular figures in california. one of the most formittable fund raisers. there is some question about the security of her finance right now. she was one of the victims of the campaign treasury scandal still unfolding so there is a question whether her money is actually there. >> can you say a little bit more about that. >> there are others affected. susan davis, congresswoman from down state. senator ted lou may have had some money disappear but then reappear. this is all related to the california accountant that worked on countless campaigns in this state over the last couple of decades who is now facing criminal charges on charges of
embezzling millions from these people. it's pretty sickening. >> so we have not got a lot of good news for elected officials coming? >> not a lot of news for elected officials. >> let's talk about the republicans. >> these poll numbers preface these republicfrom purepublican. michelle bachmann will be speaking. romney and perry are not on the schedule, but when i talk to the gop chairman he played it very poised. he said you never know who's going to show up until the convention is over. i think that's good advice. mitt romney is here doing fund raisers so you never know if he meteorologist pop by. it shows the republicans have
quite a task ahead of them. they have to move mountains and those mountains are the sierra nevada. that's where we had a democratic sweep. they need to figure out how to get that wave that they think is coming to california. >> we have to move to you, david about another -- a story that started and just seems to be growing. it's all about this solar panel company, solyndra. why is it so important? >> it's got symbolic value to a lot of people in different ways. this company was the very first green tech company to get the big stimulus loan. very large loan. up to 535 million they were able to access. this was a loan program created under bush that had been sitting there basically for a couple years with nothing happening with it. when obama came into office he
made that part of the stimulus package, pumped some more money into it and these guys were the first ones out of the gate. so to see them go through this pretty spectacular flameout, that has a lot of symbolism and the republicans in congress are using that as a way to say both that the stimulus didn't work and that the whole promise of green jobs is just a mirage. >> i think there is an assumption that they say all that money is going to be gone, gone, gone. but that's not necessarily so yet, right? there is still technology to be sold. any chance of recovering any of that money? >> any of it is the operative word. they are in bankruptcy proceedings now. they are trying to sell the company. we can sort of assume that when a company very abruptly closes down and fires everybody, you kind of assume they were looking
for a buyer to begin with and didn't find one. they are very publicly looking for a buyer now. i don't know that one is going to be out there because of the big problem they ran into. they had a very specialized, very innovative kind where nobody else in the world had anything like it. it was a tube paned black, had some really good advantages over the standard flat kind, but these new factories that were heavily subsidized in china with very low interest loans. so some cases we hear basically free loans and free land. they are ready to turn out@more standard kind at a really chief price. if you're another solar company out there, you want to buy this highly specialized factory that was designed just to make this one product that you probably don't want to sell?
>> right. >> why is the fbi involved in this? >> they will not say, as typical. they're looking at the loan, possibly to see whether or not the people in the company knew that their financial situation would you say worse than what they were telling the government. however, what from what we've learned, the company knew that it was facing bankruptcy as early as last fall, last december, and the department of energy knew that too and took a lot of steps trying to keep these guys from going into bankruptcy and it didn't work.
there is going to be another hearing on wednesday where the company's ceo testifies in front of this congressional hearing. at the same time, in terms of tax payers, what we really have to pay attention to is the bankruptcy proceedings and see whether someone wants to buy this or someone wants to buy the factory and whether we're going to get any of that money back. >> thank you, david. several presidential members are in town, but a specific cooperation meeting. secretary of state hillary clinton said for the first time in its history the 21 nation organization was committing itself to improving economic opportunities for the women. >> we will stop a declaration for the first time in apex history that will affirm this organization and each member economy's commitment to improving where i am's access to capital and market.
>> secretary of transportation ray la hood was here earlier this week and i spoke with him about how infrastructure projects might stimulate jobs and the economy in california. >> thank you mr. secretary. i wonder how you think the work you're doing here at this conference in san francisco will help put california back to work. >> well, having all of these ministers here to see this wonderful city and what's going on in the state and to hear yesterday from the governor what his priorities are for the environment, for the economy, for putting people to work i think is an exchange that can only help lead to an awareness of what other countries are doing, and an opportunity to maybe replicate some of these programs, some of these ideas, some of these opportunities. >> outside of raising consciousness, do you see any short term benefits from conferences like this to create
jobs in california? >> of course. i think that the way other economies have created jobs and also taken care of the environment and also taken care of the people that are out of work, this sharing of ideas is not just that. it's an opportunity to take those ideas and implement them. i think yesterday's meeting was a very, very good exchange of what each country is doing with respect to creating jobs. creating green jobs. >> do you think the goal has gone off green jobs? even the president has pulled back a bit. >> i don't think it's gone for people who care about the environment. i had over an hour meeting with governor brown about his interest in high speed rail, but also about his interest in creating green jobs. i don't think it's left california. and i don't really think it's
left the country. i was out at the fed ex facility last evening in oakland and saw cars totally battery powered. i saw buses that are hydrogen powered. that could not have occurred five years ago. so all of this activity i think is producing very, very good results. >> you mentioned high speed rails. what are the ob tackles for gettings funding for high speed rails? >> the first time the president has invested more than 10 billion dollars in high speed rail. that's 10 billion more times than has ever been invested. majority is invested right here in california. 25 years from now california will have the kind of trains
that really will be high speed. thousands will have an option that they don't have today. it will also create green jobs for the cars that will be manufactured. for the trains that will be manufactured. for the infrastructure that will be manufactured. these are all clean burning trains. and the connectivity for california will be enormous and the ability really of feem hape have an alternative. >> the first thing that those trains need are the tracks and whatever else it takes to get them running. do you think the president's job bill that he's asking congress to pass will contain money for high speed rail. >> it contains more than $4 million because the president put it in his bill that was delivered to capital hill this week. the president put in money for highways, for bridges were
transit. but also $4 billion to high speed rail. the president is looking to get people out of their cars and onto trains. this is what the american people want. >> you spent 14 years in congress. you were on the appropriations committee. what do you think the chances are of getting the president's bill passed through congress? >> there are too many people out of work that our economy needs a boost. the american jobs need a boost that will put americans back to work. america has always had a big vision. we want to get back to that. the president wants america to get back to that. put americans to work. pass the americans job act now. we can build high speed rails in 40 and we will put friends and neighbors, americans back to work doing what we've always done. building our infrastrauk chur.
>> another direction. we got a big blast here. that was a report and some blame was placed on the federal government. >> i actually met with the families. it was a heart breaking day to meet with families who lost loved ones. we, over the last year, sense what happened in pennsylvania, since what happened in michigan where we've had these pipelines explode and people were killed, we have met with the gas and oil companies. we have organized so that now the gas companies will put up on their website where pipelines are. people move into neighborhoods and they have no idea a pipeline is running through their front yard. we want to get to the ideaed that somebody doesn't throw the switch in their house -- the
light switch and the explosion occurs in their front yard. those kinds of safety opportunities are what we're trying to create. we have some responsibility for pipeline safety at the department of transportation. but we've given some of that responsibility over to the state. we want to work with the oil and gas companies to make sure people are aware if there is a pipeline in their front yard and to make sure that the oil and gas companies are replacing these ijing pipe leans on a regular basis so we don't have the kind of explosions that took place in san bernardino. >> thank you. multitalented eed actress, singer, danner is now performing on stamg.
in this production, she portrays herself in life without make up. >> at nearly 80, actress rita moreno shows no signs of slowing down. rehearsing for her show, she's ma doing things she made famous years ago. her journey has taken her from puerto rico where she was born to berkley where she relocated to los angeles. she's bringing the story of her career onto the stage. >> i found out soon enough that it was not a good thing to be from another country. in a sense, it is about a young
child who comes to a different country, doesn't speak the language. learned very quickly that it is not a good thing to be who or what she is. >> i talked with moreno in her berkley hills home. her awards are every where. she's one of two people who have won an oscar, a tony, and a grammy. >> i'm very proud of the awards that i have earned. notice i say earned. >> berkley rep's artistic director persuaded moreno to perform her life story and wreet life without makeup after spending a year learning about her life. >> there are very few people in history who you can identify as a crossover artist. i think you know people in your
life that you know they are in fact making history. i think moreno is one of those. >> i would perform every where. i was an equal opportunity person. >> reporter: she was discovered and cast in one et they can role after another. she played one of the king's wives in the king and i. >> when i went to the movie, i did nothing but speak with excellence. i don't know how an american indian girl speaks. i played lots of those. then i played a lot of senor eta. everything but an american girl. >> were you amused by this? >> held no. oh god no. i hated it. >> she knows she wants to be a
star. and she knows the biggest stars with betty grable and elizabeth taylor and so she wanted to be them. she literally wanted to be them. she doesn't like her own skin or her own skin color. >> west side story is the movie most people know her for. but the tragedy of west side story, the puerto rico struck a cord with her as well. >> i under this girl. i certainly understood racial prejudice. i got called really mean names in my life just because of being this port ri can girl.
i mean things like steks and garlic mouth. terrible names based on nothing other than my nationality. >> she has now broken free of the ethnic typecasting. at berkley rep she has performed popular roles. her puerto rico roots offset her stage. >> she's pretty comfortable in her own skin today. >> i would say rita is shockingly comfortable in her own skin. she doesn't try hard to be leeked. that's a story that a lot of people can relate to. this isn't just rita, west side story. that's about struggle. >> she had a series of dramatic things at times with well-known
men. >> you had an affair with marlon brando. >> we were friends also. >> what was it like? >> what was it like? it was fabulous, hilarious, worsening, maddening, crazy thinking. all of those things. >> have you ever been so upset with someone you feel leek you can't breathe without them. oh i feel that way about him now. >> now settled in northern california, moreno finds berkley suits her. >> one of the things that attracted me the most immediately was the people. i think a city is formed by its people. i think berkley's a swell place.
i love the women here, especially. i love that they are very opinionated. >> today, moreno plays a jewish mother in the sit come happily divorced. her other tv critics include a recurring role in the cbs show electric company. now about to start her ninth decade, moreno has come a long way as an ak tres and as a person. >> here i am doing this play trying desperately to memorize 32 pages of single spaced type with nobody on stage to help me. that terrified me. being 80, no.
gwen: president obama's terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad week. plus fallout from the g.o.p. debate and poverty in america. tonight, on "washington week." >> there are folks in washington who may be fine waiting until the next election to settle our differences and move forward. but the next election is 14 months away.